The widening rift within the Kerala Congress (M) shows no signs of healing even as the crucial steering committee meeting of the party to decide its lone Lok Sabha candidate is slated to be held here on Sunday.
The last-ditch attempts to placate the party’s working chairman P.J. Joseph, who considers his claim to contest legitimate, have failed to make a breakthrough. Compounding the situation is the statement of Rajya Sabha member and party’s vice chairman Jose K. Mani, who on Saturday asserted that there was no question of giving up the Kottayam seat.
While interacting with mediapersons here, he said any decision on the party’s candidate would be made only during the steering committee meeting, to be preceded by a parliamentary party meeting in the morning.
The words of Mr. Jose K. Mani, which came in response to Mr. Joseph’s decision to contest, have almost ended the possibility of consensus between the divergent groups. It serves as a blow to the efforts of the United Democratic Front (UDF) to strike a consensus on the vexed issue.
The statement comes in the backdrop of rumours that the Congress and KC(M) are considering swapping of the Kottayam and Idukki seats. In the wake of the claim laid by Mr. Joseph, the possibility of placing a candidate acceptable to both factions was also being explored.
All eyes are now on party chairman K.M. Mani, who is likely to get into action to defuse the crisis that is threatening to rock the party’s foundation ahead of a very crucial election. If the steering committee fails to come up with a decision, the situation in all likelihood, will take both the factions to a point of no return.
Meanwhile, official sources pointed to a third possibility of the steering committee meeting entrusting Mr. Mani to take a final call on the candidate. They also maintained that the candidature of V.N. Vasavan, a CPI(M) strongman in Kottayam, may prompt Mr. Mani to re-analyse his position and step back eventually.